Water in Odessa was always a thorny problem. The water was first taken from wells or brought by barges from Kherson, while special underground cisterns accumulated rainwater from the roofs. This is why some of the older houses have roofs with one sharp incline towards the courtyard where the rain would drop into special collectors. Today the city, that for decades never completely quenched its thirst, has more than abundant supplies of water from the Dniester.
In one of the garden’s paths you will notice a group of men gesticulating and talking animatedly. They will be there no matter what the weather. This is the gathering spot for football fans, where they meet to discuss the latest football results or days of past glory, the games of the Soviet, Brazilian or Argentine national teams at world championships, or the merits of such famous players as Pele or Paolo Rossi, Lev Yashin or Oleg Blokhin.
A memorial plaque on house No. 4 notes that the outstanding Czech writer and Democrat Svatopluk Cech stayed there in 1874 during a tour of Russia.
From Soborna square we continue along Ulitsa Sadovaya (Garden St.) Only two blocks long it can be regarded as the continuation of Deribasovskaya. It came into being almost simultaneously with the City Gardens, as it was the route people followed when they went to see the first planted trees.
Right after the Gift shop (19 Sadovaya St.) the street is crossed by Ulitsa Petra Velikogo (Peter the Great St.). It received its name in 1909 when the country marked the bicentenary of the Battle of Poltava in which Russian troops under Peter the Great scored a decisive victory in the long war against Sweden.
One block down this street on the left-hand side (house No. 2) is the main building of the Odessa State University named after llya Mechnikov.
In 1975, on the 30th anniversary of the victory over fascist Germany, a monument was unveiled in front of the building to the students, lecturers and University staff who lost their lives in the war.
The building was erected in 1852-1857 (architect Alexander Shashin) for the Richelieu lyceum. In 1865, the eminent Russian surgeon Nikolai Pirogov, at that time one of the Governors of the Odessa Board of Education, suggested that the lyceum be upgraded and turned into a University. Initially it was known as the Novorossiisk University and after the revolution as the Odessa University.
In the first years the University had 175 students in three departments. Today it has nine departments (Geology-Geography, Biology, History, Physics, Philology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Law and Romanic-German Philology) and a student body of about 12,000. The teaching staff of about 800 includes one member of the Academy of Sciences and more than 400 lecturers with doctor’s or master’s degrees.
Eleven scientific research institutions are affiliated to the University; the Institute of Physics, the Observatory, the Botanical Gardens, etc. There is a library with about 2.5 million books and also four museums, including the Museum of Paleontology.
In the field of marine geology, Odessa University acts as the coordinating science centre, and has a Laboratory of Marine Geology. The University occupies a leading place in the country in astronomical and biological research.
Since 1945 the University bears the name of llya Mechnikov, the great Russian bacteriologist and 1908 Nobel Prize winner, who worked in the University for twelve years.
Together with Nikolai Gamaley he founded in Odessa a bacteriological station specialising in rabies vaccinations. It was the second of its kind in the world and the first in Russia. The founder of the Russian school of physiology Ivan Sechenov was closely linked with the University.
The chemist Nikolai Zelinski, founder of the Soviet school of organic chemistry, graduated from Odessa University, as did Vladimir Khavkin, the bacteriologist who developed the vaccines against the plague and cholera. Subsequently Khavkin settled in India, a country regarded as a constant source of the plague and cholera, and founded the Bacteriological Institute in Opposite the University, on the other side of Ulitsa Petra Velikogo is the building of the Technological Institute of the Refrigerating Industry, founded in 1930. It was built in 1936-1940 (architect Adolf Minkus). A memorial plaque at the entrance pays tribute to Bombay now named after him. During a cholera epidemic in India he organised the vaccination of 165,000 people.
In Soviet years the University staff included the first “Red Professor” in the Ukraine, the historian Yevgeny Shchepkin, the physicist Yevgeny Kirillov, the biologist Ivan Puzanov and many others.
Professor Vladimir Martynovsky, the eminent Soviet scientist and Rector of the Institute. At its six departments the institute now has some 6,000 students.